easy child/difficult child tensions

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by katya02, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    difficult child has been doing a really good job at home lately, taking shifts at work when asked, keeping his job, staying clean and sober, being more talkative and pleasant, etc. He and husband and daughter and I seem to have figured out a workable way to get along.

    It was easy child 1's birthday yesterday; he and easy child 2 came home, I made a nice family dinner, etc. Some tension came up early in the day when difficult child told easy child 1 to clean up his kitchen mess ... I wasn't there and all accounts were different. Later, husband told difficult child that when the easy child brothers are home from school they don't have to do anything in the house - summer will be different, but when they're only home for a weekend their schoolwork takes priority. difficult child was offended and told me privately that he wasn't going to come with us to a movie later, that he's never going anywhere with his brothers again. Then, before dinner, he said his stomach felt sick and he wasn't going to eat dinner with us. (He sometimes does this when he wants to avoid family members and then eats later, at night.) He did come to the table and eat when dinner was ready, though.

    difficult child was a bit morose watching easy child 1 open his 2 presents, wouldn't be in pictures etc. He didn't start a fight but his mood was a dampener. He said a couple of times, 'Can I leave now?' He's always been resentful watching other people have birthday celebrations; he says every birthday he's ever had has been terrible and everyone else gets better birthdays.

    Finally difficult child got up and said fairly loudly, "Well, I'm leaving!" and went downstairs. easy child 2, who had been fuming, called after him, 'Good!!' husband got completely upset at easy child 2, yelled that difficult child is his son too, that easy child 2 is giving him a heart attack, and that this stuff kills him.
    The whole evening was ruined; husband and daughter and I went to the movie, no one else would; everyone was miserable.

    There's too much history, too many hard feelings between the three brothers, for any simple solution to work. I know they have to work things out as adults and it won't be soon. difficult child doesn't even seem to remember the stuff he did that his brothers resent so much, and he doesn't clue in to why they're angry at his current way of living. On the other hand, they don't acknowledge the progress he's made over the past months at all; they just want him moved out and gone from our lives. They are barely civil to him when they're home; if he tries to join conversations and tell anecdotes from his college time they're scornful - they just see his time as all drug use (his first semester was fine).

    I've told them that I expect at least basic courtesy in the house but they skate around the letter of the law and still make their digs. on the other hand, difficult child tried to beat easy child 2 up the night before he left for college last August ...

    How have your easy child kids dealt with your difficult children as they became adults? I don't have delusions that all will be wonderful, but we can't even all be in the same house without misery. :crying:
  2. maril

    maril New Member

    It sounds to me as though you and husband are trying to be fair and keep balance in your nest but, alas, sibling relationships can be difficult, I suppose. I honestly don't know if I could do as well as you!

    My own experience growing up - I am number three of four kids, including two older brothers and one younger brother, the youngest having physical and learning problems for which mom had to give extra time and attention (definitely understable); but then, there was the ever-present sib rivalry and competition. Always had a sort of love/hate thing going at home, but in our own weird way, we were a "decent" family. As adults, we get along fairly well; it has taken quite some time as well as learning to communicate in order for us to come to terms with some occurrences and rivalries that occurred as youngsters. Fortunately, all of our lives are going relatively well (very thankful for that) and I realize time can help heal wounds.

    My experience as a mom - of course, as my signature reveals, I have only two kids. They are almost six years apart, so each has had their her/his "only child" time, if you will; daughter's only-child time being before son was born and son's being in the past just about 5 years since daughter went away to college. Certainly, that makes a difference in dealing with the sibling rivalry! The 13 years they lived together was never too incredibly difficult.

    Back when difficult child was born, daughter was thrilled when she learned she had a baby brother but soon realized this little man was going to demand extra attention and energy from mom and dad! Over the years, she has tried to be loving and understanding but does get disgusted and impatient with her brother. Up until recently, she was not really on the same page as us with difficult children diagnosis and how to deal with his challenges.

    Over time, in realizing that I was giving difficult child more attention than daughter, I changed my ways and gave more of myself to daughter, especially after she graduated from high school, got through that "can't stand mom" period, and we could communicate. By then, she was interested in and willing to have me help her out if she needed it with some of her new adult responsibilities.

    It has definitely been an interesting ride, but I will always be thankful that I was blessed with having children. :D
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2009
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    I think maturity plays a huge role in how easy child/difficult children get along as adults. At least for us that seem to be one of the biggest factors.

    easy child used to resent the time it took me to parent 2 difficult children. Travis used to drive her straight up a wall when she lived at home. There were times when she was close to strangling him. (with good reason) Once she moved out the tension eased. Plus she was gaining a more adult/mature outlook on life as a whole and it carried over to the difficult children as well.

    Nichole has been my biggest hurdle. As young children she and Travis were inseperable. At about age 10/11 she surpassed her bother.....and it's been a constant clash between them every since. And there were many times those clashes were vicious, most especially on Nichole's part.

    I'd honestly given up on Nichole ever learning to accept and get along with her brother on a civil level.

    But once again I'm seeing maturity making a difference. It's no where near perfect yet.....But the fact that Nichole will pick her brother up from work is HUGE. That they can have a "normal" conversation blows my mind.

    And I suspect once Nichole is out on her own and doesn't have her brother to contend with 24/7 this will improve even more.

    Have the other kids ever attended al anon meetings? Might be a good idea if they haven't. I think right now they may be resentful of difficult child because they think he's pulling the wool over your eyes and going to use again. So it's probably going to take quite a bit of time for difficult child to "prove" himself to them. Kids aren't as forgiving of each other as parents are of kids.

    Not so long ago I wouldn't have believed my kids could all get along as adults. But they can and do more often than not.

  4. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Thanks for the encouragement. You're right, the others do think difficult child is pulling the wool over our eyes and using us now, and also planning to drink/use again in future. And he uses that attitude to complain to us that it doesn't matter what he does (good things), nothing ever changes in terms of how his sibs see him. We've explained that it takes a lot of time to re-earn trust; but that conversation usually derails at that point as he tries to focus on his sibs and their sins.

    I think husband and I have reached a point of detachment where we realize difficult child probably will go back to using at some point when he a) reconnects with bad friends or b) has some stress in his life. We hope not, but we're not deluding ourselves. In the meantime we offer encouragement in the things difficult child is doing that are positive, and we push him a little to think about the future and planning for a job that will support him.

    Kids, as you say, are far less forgiving of their sibs than parents are. I guess they see more of each other's core, unmasked personalities - plus they didn't carry their sib for nine months! :) on the other hand I think young people don't always have the ability to step back and accept the good things a person is doing while keeping their eyes open about the bad things. Everything is black or white. I can forgive my difficult child for many things but it doesn't mean I forget them or get straight back in line for another dose of the same! But my easy child sons don't see that.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Young people don't yet have the life experience for this type of thinking. Nichole is just beginning to get it at almost 20. I can even think back and recognize alot of black and white thinking I had as a teen and in my early twenties. Now I think wow.......I thought everything was so simple then. lol
  6. Kolleen

    Kolleen Guest

    It's so sad to see siblings in discord. My two did pretty good till Sonnyboy kept hanging out with easy child's new friends (teen years) and finally made a crude remark about easy child and that was the last straw for easy child.

    easy child put up with all sonnyboys krap and feels sonnyboy got most of the attention. Well, if ya count negative attention i guess he did. And I can see why he feels that way.

    In their early 20's cars have brought them somewhat back together. easy child even tried to mentor difficult child, was helping him with one of his 'issues', felt we should give difficult child a chance now that he's older. Holy Moly!!! His whole life - our whole life - has been giving difficult child more chances. I've run out of 'chances.'

    You are right though. They have to work this out and yet you can demand civility. Hang in there.